TULSA, Okla. – Retief Goosen won the U.S. Open at Southern Hills in 2001, but it could have as easily been Stewart Cink hoisting the trophy.
Cink, Goosen and Mark Brooks all came to the 18th hole on Sunday at Southern Hills at 5 under par, and each man was betrayed by his putter on the final hole of regulation.
Brooks three-putted it for bogey. Cink three-putted it for double-bogey. And Goosen, needing to get down in two from 12 feet, three-putted it to force an 18-hole playoff on Monday. That playoff was just between Goosen and Brooks, thanks to Cink missing his bogey putt from 18 inches.
Cink finds himself with an afternoon tee time once again on a Sunday at Southern Hills, and while a seven-shot deficit seems insurmountable, a bad day from leader Mito Pereira could put Cink, and a host of other players, back in the mix.
“I would think for me the biggest key is just to stay in the present and to keep on, what we like to call bludgeoning, and that means just working everything down to a common denominator and executing that shot and going to find the ball,” Cink said after a Saturday 71. “It's really simple, and it's really hard to do when your emotions are just like going like the Indy 500 out there.
“That's going to be the key for me tomorrow. Keep doing what I've been doing. I've been striking the ball great and just clawing and fighting, and I'm going to keep doing that. If it turns into a 64 or 65 tomorrow, who knows.”
Cink, who celebrated his 49th birthday Saturday, would become the second-oldest major champion of all time. The oldest, of course, coming last year when Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship just shy of his 51st birthday.
The 2009 Open champion was asked Saturday whether Mickelson’s triumph a year ago provided any motivation for him this week.
“It blows the ceiling off what we thought was impossible before, really,” Cink said. “Phil is his own guy for sure and he's one of the best the game has ever seen but the fact that at his age he could not only just compete but finish it off and win, coupled with the fact I know I've got recent wins on the PGA Tour, it really gives me a load of belief that I can go out there and compete in a tournament like this, and maybe tomorrow, you know, if I have a couple of those things that didn't go my way today, maybe they go my way, 4 or 5 under par, you just never know.”
If things do go Cink’s way Sunday, it would be quite the redemption story at Southern Hills.